As part of our 'in their shoes' series, we sat down with Pam Wenger, who works as Director of Corporate Governance for the Swansea Bay University Health Board.
How would you describe your role as a governance professional?
My role is to advise the board. The role of the board secretary crucial to the ongoing development and maintenance of a strong governance framework within local health boards (LHB’s), and is a key source of advice and support to the LHB chair and other board members. Independent of the board, the board secretary acts as the guardian of good governance within the LHB.
What do you think are the most important skills that you need as a governance professional?
I have been successful in all the governance roles I have held and I put this down to strong communication and relationship skills. I am a firm believer that a governance professional is key to building effective relationships with all board members and it is often the work done behind the scenes that helps to support and effective board.
Diplomatic skills are also really important from my perspective and certainly have helped in during many difficult situations over the years. Above all though it is being team player and having the ability to develop coach and nuture my team. I couldn’t do my job without my fantastic team.
This has been an interesting year for us all. How have you adapted in your role as a governance professional?
It is quite timely writing this blog as this week was a year from our first lockdown. Working in the NHS is challenging at the best times, this year has been one of the hardest years in my career yet at the same time the most rewarding.
The pace of change was quite phenomenal and involved advising my board about adapting the governance at the start of the pandemic, changing the way in which we held our board and committee meetings, moving to virtual board meetings almost overnight so that we were able to discharge our duties as a board and our accountabilities for the public.
We found that governance was ‘our friend’ it enabled and supported good decision making whilst operating in an emergency situation. The pandemic has helped me reflect of our governance as a NHS public body and to consider pragmatic ways in discharging our governance without creating a mountain of paperwork.
I have been involved in some many governance decisions over the last year, I keep going back to the set of principles we agreed as a board at the start helped us and guided the board to ensure we had agile and appropriate decision making.
Do you have any thoughts regarding what those coming into the profession should know?
Be bold, don’t afraid to ask questions and learn from your colleagues. I think it is really important to have a mentor to support you in your journey. The pandemic has opened up more opportunities for access to virtual learning, webinars and training. Embrace these opportunities as they will help in your future career path.